Donald's appointment highlights the Ospreys' ambition to be not only the best performing regional side in Wales, but also the most professional.
Donald plans to build on the Ospreys' universally applauded marketing campaign and to take the club to a new level of commercial awareness and operational professionalism. The move will see Ospreys acting joint chief executives, Mike Cuddy and Roger Blyth, moving to roles as joint managing directors with overall responsibility for the regional side, with Andrew Donald reporting to the two.
It is the first time a Welsh club has sought a chief executive based purely on commercial expertise. In doing so, the Ospreys are recognising the importance of attracting business ability over rugby ability in the new demanding, commercial environment of regional rugby - effectively separating the club's commercial function from its rugby playing function.
Leading Welsh businessman Donald was, until recently, area director (Wales & West Country) for telecommunications giant NTL where, amongst his other responsibilities, he oversaw the company's extensive sponsorship package of Welsh premier rugby teams including Swansea, Cardiff and Newport. And, as a result of his prominent role within the Welsh business community, Donald sits on a number of public bodies, including the Welsh Assembly's highly influential ICT Partnership for Objective 1 Funding (see notes to editors).
Donald is now focused on the task ahead, which involves responsibility for all Ospreys' off-field activity. Initially, this will take the form of a commercial audit to be followed by the introduction of a series of new initiatives aimed at bringing an even greater dynamism to the Ospreys rugby brand, and greater awareness of regional rugby to the wider rugby and non-rugby playing community.
Speaking today, newly installed Ospreys chief executive Andrew Donald said:
"This is a fantastic opportunity which I intend to seize with both hands. The challenge is to help make an even greater impact for the Ospreys and for regional rugby within the area and will involve enhancing commercial activity, targeting the business community, initiating community programmes and creating a meaningful and lasting mechanism for engaging all the feeder clubs, within the region, in a true partnership with the Ospreys. To do this, we'll need a slick and professional back-room operation second to none that can act as a model for best practice for other regional teams in Wales.
"But, above all, the challenge is to help ensure supporters get a great product and, in turn, to increase the size and significance of the Ospreys' support base, so that the club can become a tour de force in Welsh rugby both on and off the pitch."
Ospreys joint managing director Mike Cuddy today said:
"We're delighted to have Andrew on board. In the new era of regional rugby, professionalism has to be at the heart of everything we do and Andrew's appointment proves we mean business, literally, here at the Ospreys. In Andrew, we think we have one of the best commercial minds in Wales heading up our off-field activity and this is hugely significant in the challenge to drive the Ospreys forward and match our commercial and marketing operation with our success on the pitch. We've made great strides so far, but this really is just the beginning of even greater things to come.
Speaking on his new joint managing director role, Roger Blyth today said:
"Mike Cuddy and I always intended our roles as joint chief executives to be short-term. We needed to get the region up and running quickly and that meant total hands-on involvement, at every level, as a result.
"With Andrew Donald now spearheading our commercial operation we have a consummate professional at the helm, and this allows Mike and myself to concentrate on higher-level, boardroom activity and the administration this entails.
"All in all, we are delighted that the Ospreys are in such good shape and, as far as we can see, are setting an example for others to follow in fully embracing regional rugby and realising the opportunities it presents."